Quitting your job can be very difficult. Just the idea of announcing that you are leaving can be very stressful. But leaving a company properly is also required to avoid any unwanted negative effect on your career. It can even boost it: every employer you leave is a potential sponsor.
This post will explain three rules to follow in order to avoid most of the troubles that you can encounter during the process. The outcome will depend on how you announce it, the feedback you give and the support you provide.
As usual, to know how to behave, you must put yourself in the other person’s shoes. You may know the feeling you get when you get fired. If your career is not long enough to have that kind of experience, you may remember how you felt when a loved one announced (s)he won’t continue the relationship with you. When an employee announces his departure, the employer can feel exactly the same.
So let’s look at it that way and imagine how you would prefer to be fired.
Announce it in person
You will certainly prefer to receive the letter from the hand of your boss rather than by a registered letter in the cold morning.
After you write a short resignation letter, book a meeting room with your manager. I don't suggest you put every detail in the letter as this may be used against you or others. Since it is not required, I would avoid it completely.
Prepare in advance what you are going to say. Just like your letter, this has to be short too. The discussion that will emerge from your meeting can be lengthier of course, but the announcement itself should not be too long. Also be sure to prepare the announcement with a short introduction that will soften the effect a bit.
Give honest and personalized feedback
When you announce it, the most common question will be “why?” You would probably appreciate some honest feedback on the reason(s) why your employer decided to end your contract. The feedback you give to your employer doesn’t have to be detailed and must be oriented to you, not him.
Example: if you decided to leave because they still work with an old programming language and you can’t do anything about it, don’t tell them it’s wrong, but simply say that you don’t feel comfortable with it. In fact, almost everything is personal; someone else might love to work with that language. Using the old programming language isn't “wrong”, just less appropriate for you.
Here's a few recommendations for the discussion:
- be specific
- put the emphasis on how you feel things, how it affected you
- avoid any judgment on persons
- don’t talk about problems that can’t be changed
- be sure to have a neutral tone and avoid sarcasm or anger
Your feedback doesn’t have to be focused only on things that can be improved. It’s a very good opportunity to say what was great. Just like the reasons for leaving, prepare a list of what you really enjoyed at the company and be sure to talk about it during the last part of the discussion. It will soften the whole discussion.
Offer your full support
Leaving a company is not only a loss in resources, but also a source of potential problems. While your employer should have taken precautions to avoid trouble in such cases, you must ensure that you can provide the minimum support required for your former company and colleagues. Even if things didn’t go very well between you, you must stay professional. Offer your support at the very end of the discussion. Be sincere but be sure to put some limits and don’t hesitate to say no if necessary.
Quitting a job is never easy and in almost all cases, feelings are hurt. It is very unlikely that you will never face this situation again in the future. You may be in the manager’s position one day and everything in this post also applies to employees being fired.
- Announce it person
- Give honest & personalized feedback (oriented to you)
- Offer your full support